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Author to tell ghost stories at library

Michael Norman likes to tell ghost stories.

“I think we all enjoy those stories,” he said. “I think it’s human nature.”

Norman, author of Haunted Wisconsin, will talk about some of the stories in his book at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Waupaca Area Public Library.

It is part of the library’s summer reading program for adults. Books will be available for purchase, and a book signing will be held after the event.

The third edition of the book became available last fall and includes updates and several new accounts.

The story about Steve and Deb Fenske’s house on Fulton Street in Waupaca is one of them.

“I’ve spoken in Waupaca a number of times. A number of years ago, Steve and Deb came to the program and said, ‘We have a story about our house,'” Norman said. “When I did the new edition, I decided to include it.”

The Fenskes believe their home, built in 1903, may be haunted by one of the original inhabitants, Henry DeLong.

Norman reports in his book that Deb woke up one evening and saw standing beside her an older man, “wearing baggy, bib overalls, a denim jacket, and a broad-rimmed straw hat. He stared at her for a few seconds before vanishing.”

In addition to collecting ghost stories, Norman has worked as a newspaper reporter and for a news station. For 30 years, he taught courses in writing, media law, public opinion and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

He lives in River Falls and is now a professor emeritus at UW-River Falls.

Norman explained how it was that he began writing ghost stories.

“Way back in the beginning, I worked with a collaborator – Beth Scott. I was teaching. She was a professional freelance writer,” he said. “We were friends. Back in that era, no one had collected Wisconsin ghost stories.”

It was before the time in which every cable channel had it own program about such stories, he said.

Norman and Scott found it to be an interesting topic and a fun project.

The first edition of Haunted Wisconsin was published in 1980.

Scott passed away in 1995, and Norman did the second edition of the book in 2000, with the third edition last year. He has also written about Minnesota’s ghost stories.

For Haunted Wisconsin, he gathered information from personal interviews with credible eyewitnesses, on-site explorations, historical archives, newspaper reports and other sources.

The reports date from Wisconsin’s early settlement days to recent events that cannot be explained.

“I’m interested in just telling the story of the house or the experience of what’s going on,” Norman said. “I perceive myself as a storyteller. I let the reader decide.”

A number of the stories that he wrote about are a part of the community’s local lore or history.

“I think we’re losing that today. Everyone is so busy,” he said. “People don’t sit and listen to stories.”

Those who attend the Aug. 30 program will have the opportunity to do so.

“They are all different in their own way. I like the ones where I can interview people. I enjoy those,” Norman said of ghost stories.

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